Probate Lawyer Fremantle
A deceased estate comprises the assets and debts that a person leaves after their death. The process of winding up and distributing a deceased estate is called estate administration. This involves settling the debts of the estate and delivering the remaining assets of the estate to the proper beneficiaries. If you are the executor named in the will of a deceased person, or a family member of somebody who has died without leaving a will, our probate lawyer in Fremantle can assist with the legal aspects of administering the estate.
Our Fremantle probate lawyers have a wealth of experience in this area and can provide advice and guidance to ensure that your duties are properly carried out and the estate is administered as efficiently as possible.
What Is an Executor?
When someone passes away, one of the first steps is to obtain a copy of the deceased’s will. In this document, the testator (the will-maker) usually nominates one or more people to act as executors of their estate. Sometimes an executor is appointed to act alone, while in other cases the deceased may have appointed multiple executors to work cooperatively. The executor/s are very often also the main beneficiaries of the estate.
The executor’s primary responsibility is to faithfully fulfil the terms of the deceased’s will. This means ensuring that property is looked after following the testator’s death, so it can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the deceased’s will. However, an executor has significant discretionary powers. For instance, an executor can overrule the terms of the will if necessary to settle debts of the estate, and any legitimate claims made by family members who were left out of the will.
What Is Probate?
Estate administration often involves applying to the Supreme Court of Western Australia for a grant of probate. Probate is granted to recognise the validity of a will. A grant of probate is usually required before a third party (such as a bank) will release an asset of the estate. The grant gives the executor the authority to deal with the asset, to transfer the asset into their own name or to sell it.
When there are no executors of an estate (usually because the deceased left no valid will) someone close to the deceased needs to apply to the Supreme Court to obtain a document called “Letters of Administration”. This is a version of probate where the Court authorises someone to perform the duties normally assumed by the executor.
How Do You Apply for a Grant of Probate?
There are a number of basic steps in applying for a grant of probate. The first steps require that the applicant advertise their intention to apply for probate, give a copy of the notice to the Public Trustee, and allow time for any interested party to object to the grant of probate. Any person with an interest in the deceased estate can file an objection, called a caveat, with the courts to stop the probate process.
The next steps are to prepare the documents that the court requires to consider an application for a grant of probate, and to file at the Supreme Court, which can be done either in person or by post.
Speak to a Fremantle Probate Lawyer today
Not every deceased estate requires a grant of probate. For instance, if the only major asset of the deceased estate was a jointly-owned property, probate may not be necessary. This is the case for couples who own residential property as “joint tenants”. When a property is owned in joint tenancy, the surviving owner automatically inherits upon the death of the co-owner.